When someone asks you if “you like goldfish,” your mind probably considers the tasty snack crackers that smile back at you while you chomp on their heads. In other cases you may think of the bug-eyed fish, the one you took home from the fair when you were 5 only to find it floating upside-down the next morning destined for a toilet based funeral. But, if you’re a music fan your mind may travel down a different path, if it doesn’t, it’s time it should.
Meet GoldFish – the South African duo – who made their name known in Africa and Europe, now turning their sights on the States. Comprised of Dominic Peters and David Poole, the incredibly talented duo combines electronic music with funk and jazz filled sounds stemming from their playing of bass and keyboards (Peters) and saxophone and flute (Poole) over their impressive DJing chops. Their live sets are intoxicating, sumptuously dancing into your ears – it’s easy to forget it’s just two dudes making all of that sweet, sweet music.
Though you may just be learning of the GoldFish effect, these two have been crushing it for year. They arguably launched the live electronic instrumental craze we’re experiencing now more than a decade ago, and in 2008 set a new South African Music Awards record with eight nominations including Best Duo and Album of the Year, winning Best Dance Album for Perceptions of Pacha. Fast forward to 2016 and you probably heard the smash hit Games Continued by Goldfish and Bakermat featuring Marie Plassard which premiered at #1 on Hypem.
The last year has also seen the duo move to the States, playing shows and festivals all around the country. In fact, GoldFish will be playing at the awesome Brooklyn venue Output tonight, August 25th, as part of the South African takeover.
I had the awesome opportunity to sit down with GoldFish following their inspiring Ultra Miami performance to talk about their journey, their music and how they’re adjusting to life in the States – a story you need to know by now.
Let’s get started.
Dominic Peters: Okay, hi. My name’s Dominic Peters. I play bass and keyboards for GoldfFsh.
David Poole: Hi, I’m David Poole. I play sax and flutes for GoldFish.
You guys have been absolutely crushing it, from South Africa? Eight nominations back in 2009. Moving forward now, it feels like you guys starting to attack the U.S. What’s that transition been like?
Poole: Eight months ago, we actually moved to San Diego. That was kind of difficult, just moving countries.
Why San Diego?
Peters: It’s close to LA, but it’s not LA.
Poole: Better weather, better people, good surf. It’s good. It’s very similar to Cape Town, where we come from in South Africa. I got two kids and we had some friends there who only had amazing things to say about the schools there. When you mix all of those factors together, it kind of made sense.
I actually interviewed Bakermat at the end of 2016, December 2016. He also talked about your track – Games Continued ft. Marie Plassard. He told me, the quote he gave me during our interview was that, he was, “A fan boy,” and had met you guys a bunch of times. You guys linked up in Amsterdam and he wanted to jump in the studio and put something together. He obviously had Marie’s vocals on tap (she crushes it), so how did that collaboration come to be? I think that’s probably, at least, this market’s first glimpse into what you guys do.
Poole: We heard about Bakermat in, I think 2013. We actually booked him and gave him a slot on our massive show in the Heineken Musical. It was like 5,000 people. That was, I think, the first big show he’d ever played. We booked him for a few more gigs and stuff like that. Then it kind of progressed to hanging out. Like I said, we just were like – wow, we should do something – because he was the new generation in a way. These guys, there’s a whole lot of them and they are all sort of inspired by what we have been doing for the last however many years, but they have a slightly different take on it. It’s a little bit more house-y, a little bit … I think we were excited to kind of expand our sounds and our ways of doing it.
Peters: It also felt like we finally had some guys who were in our genre. We’ve been doing this sort of jazzy, house-type sound with the saxophone for ages. For eight years and then suddenly there was Bakermat, Klingande, Robin Schulz were all suddenly using saxophone on their tracks. We’re like, hello? Where have you guys been? GRiZ, Gramatik, even. It was really cool and to do a collaboration with him, first of all, like Dave said, it was the new generation and it was also just we were really excited to have some people in the sound. The sound has solidified into something which is really cool.
I guess you’d call them at this point contemporaries, even if in a sense, you’ve built the genre as a whole, as a live saxophone over something electronic. Are there other contemporaries, like Bakermat being one of those you’ve worked with, that you are really excited about? I know Gramatik is close to you guys. Others that you’re either to play with, collab with?
Peters: I really like what GRiZ and Gramatik and Big Gigantic and them are doing. It’s got a more of a U.S. centric kind of sound, which is a bit more interesting for us. It’s not just house music. In Europe, it’s very house based.
David Poole: Everything was pretty much always 120 bpm.
Dominic Peters: Ranging from techno to EDM and everything in between. There’s those guys that are doing slower tempos. When we started out, we actually were doing more chill out music. Their music is still energetic, but it’s slow.
Poole: It’s slow, but it’s got a drop.
Peters: It’s a got a drop and has got more bass sounds. We just collaborated with an amazing, talented singer/songwriter called Ashe. She did that song with Shaun Frank. It’s actually a bit of a slower, more in that sort of line of things. It’s actually kind of a space to create in. Because there’s more space between the notes. You know what I’m saying? It’s like, dum, dum, dum, dum, the whole time.
Right. You’re less constrained.
Peters: It’s almost easier to be a little bit more musical.
Yeah, if you pick up a saxophone and start wailing, you’re stuck at that bpm, it’s tough to get creative.
Poole: You can, but it’s just nice to suddenly be working with artists in a different tempo again. Because of where we’re from, the European kind of sounds and living in Ibiza for seven years. It’s all about house and that kind of tempo. Once we moved to America, it was just give yourself permission to make some music that is future based and track type tempos. Let’s stay true to what Goldfish sounds like.
Peters: It’s kind of interesting how you’re influenced by your surroundings always. Whatever music is playing wherever you are, it kind of influences you.
Poole: It somehow worms its way into your own music.
So, we just watched your Ultra set, my friend Nick plays guitar, he was losing his shit. I used to play saxophone, losing my shit.
Peters: Haha, cool.
Obviously, you guys are going from an actual instrumental, musical side. You both play instruments that you featured in both your sets, and your music. Are there other instruments that are coming out or things that you want to experiment with?
Peters: We both grew up in very musical households. Both our families were very into music. There was always music playing in the house. My mom was a pianist. We both started playing when we were about six years old, basically when we started school, we both were into music. Dave started on violin, I think, I started on piano. We went through a few instruments, I played cello for a while. Dave even played cello for a while. He found saxophone, I was playing piano. Once I got over the cello, I got into the electrical double base. We met at the University of Cape Town, studying together. We just both knew this was what we wanted to do. There was never any question for us that we were going to do anything else. We always knew-
Poole: It was always music. We were playing in a jazz band together. We were doing straight ahead jazz. We were doing weddings and corporate functions and all this stuff.
Peters: No, we were in an acoustic jazz band. We could have got waiter jobs or something. Doing this was way more fun and we were learning. It was a great internship.
Poole: We used to drive off to a gig, an hour’s drive up to Cape Town. We would drive out every Saturday afternoon and talk about stuff, music, listen to tunes. At the time, there was guys starting off making music with acoustic elements. We were like, “We should make some music like this, because it’s actually pretty fun. Maybe our friends will come to the gigs.”
Peters: We were trying to get our buddies to come to our jazz band. That was interesting.
Poole: “I have this wedding and if you want to come by … “
Dominic Peters: There’s going to be tons of chicks there, haha.
David Poole: But we had friends who were instantly like taken aback. Then we actually got a gig. Funnily enough, it was a reporter from Cape Town who had interviewed us many times as the jazz band. He had heard that we were doing something else and phoned me up one day and said, “Hey, I heard you guys are doing something different. I’m having my birthday party next week, do you guys want to come play?” He’s just a hip, cool dude. We went and we played. And then David’s like, “Dom, let’s play a gig.” I was like, “What? What do you mean? Of course, we’re playing gigs.” He’s like, “No, no, as GoldFish.” We took everything we had, including an old Pentium 4 computer stack with a CRT monitor and we actually did the gig sitting down.
Peters: We basically moved our studio into his party.
Poole: We did the gig sitting down and people loved it. One guy came up to us, we’re actually still friends with him, “Guys, I really loved that, but maybe you should try standing up.” That was the beginning.
That’s very important.
Poole: From there, it just went mad. We just started getting phone calls and going nuts. Obviously, we had a lot of connections, because we’d been playing gigs in Cape Town. We just got in there and we started a regular gig at this small little 300 people venue in Camp’s Bay, which is on the beach on a Thursday. There was this huge, popular party that went on upstairs at this bigger club and we had this smaller room downstairs, but what happened was, it was so popular that people couldn’t get in there. We got the overflow and eventually it got to the point where you couldn’t get into our club, into our little place either. People were dancing on the tables. It was pretty legendary stuff. Then basically, so many gigs came in that we couldn’t even do the jazz gigs anymore. Then we got an opportunity to play in Cannes for some advertising awards.
Peters: It was like a beach party there.
Poole: Yeah, we played a beach party there. We thought… we’re going to be really close to Ibiza in Spain, which-
Peters: Is the home of dance music, we should go.
Poole: We hopped over there. My manager at the time, he was friends with guy who managed Pacha Ibiza. We were there ready and they gave us 20 minutes Pete Tong at the before party at Café Mambo. We went there it was like 95 degrees, super hot. The strip there, basically, all the parties have pre-parties there. All the people just come and they just mill about and then these famous DJs just play and it’s free.
Peters: You watch the sun set.
Poole: You watch the sun set.
Peters: There are worse things.
Poole: I think we kind of got the gig because Pete [Tong] was kind of like, “Sweet. Take 20 minutes extra I’m having dinner.”
David Poole: We went in there and we couldn’t find the right cables to link the whole thing up. It was an absolute nightmare. It was five minutes before we had to play and we had this massive container that they’d sent me up to the back of the place where there was just cables. It was perfect spaghetti and I was pulling cables out of this thing, sweating. I came running through with one cable.
Peters: We played in mono.
Poole: Played for 20 minutes. And rocked. Pete Tong came on the mic and he was like, “Oh, that was GoldFish. This is amazing.” Then the guys from Pacha asked us what we were doing later, if we wanted to play in the Global room.
And we said sure, because we had nothing planned. We did two gigs in the same day and that was crazy. It just escalated really fast. That was the beginning, 2007.
Peters: 10 years ago.
Poole: Yeah, 10 years ago. From there, we went back there every year, every summer for three months, four months.
Peters: We were kind of thrown in with the lions, because we were playing with live music in the world’s most famous club. It’s over 45 years old now. We were playing before Fedde Le Grand, Pete Tong, and David Guetta. But we didn’t know what we were doing.
Poole: We didn’t have any hit songs. We didn’t have anything like that. We were just literally there as a circus act.
Peters: Look at these funny South African’s playing instruments. We did a live set.
Poole: It was literally like a university. It was a dance music university. We went to university for music. Then we went to Ibiza for dance music university.
In more recent news, you guys signed on to Armada. Deep of the Night came out. That’s been wildly popular in a bunch of countries. I guess now in San Diego, a ton of U.S. stuff. What are you guys most excited about for 2017?
Poole: We’re going to release the album. We’re thinking September. It’s called Late Night People.
Peters: We’re really happy with what’s coming. We actually play a lot of the new materials and we’re really happy with how it’s sounding. It’s been nice not rushing it, we’re just putting it together. Moving to America was definitely a huge change in our lives. Plenty of things to be getting used to, making connections, finding out where the laundry mat is.
Poole: Discovering Amazon. Wow.
Peters: Amazon Prime is amazing.
It makes no sense.
Peters: It’s a game changer. They’re rolling repercussions of our past. The first months kind of, “Woo hoo, we’re here.” A few months later it’s like, “Oh my goodness, we’re here.” Then it’s like, “Oh fuck, we live in America now. I’m going home, oh wait, where is home?” We feel like home, which is good.
Poole: We also consequently, well now we’re living in San Diego, close to LA, in America. We also thought it’s pointless releasing an album just as you arrive. We wanted to submerge ourselves in it a bit more and then also be able to collaborate with some U.S. guys. Be able to really interface a bit better and use it as an opportunity to get with new singers that we haven’t worked with before and all that kind of stuff. That’s pretty exciting.
Peters: It’s definitely brought some new flavors into the album. Cape Town’s amazing, but we are very geographically removed from what’s going on. We miss it like crazy, we love living there, but before our careers, it just doesn’t make sense to be living there. It’s a luxury to live here.
With the album, is there going to be a GoldFish tour anytime soon?
Peters: I think when the album comes out.
Poole: Yeah, probably when the album comes out. Maybe October.
Peters: But before then, we also to have time to record an album.
Poole: Also we need to be in the state to record an album. That we’re not completely broken from touring.
Peters: You can do that and people do that all the time. You see those guys, basically come back and it seems like a point of pride that they composed it during a tour. That’s fine, but we don’t feel like we do our best work that way.
Poole: Especially with all we’re doing with the acoustic.
Peters: Yeah. A lot of stuff we come up with is live as well. That’s important. The touring keeps you in the musical zone, but sometimes you don’t actually want to think about music for a couple of days. Then an idea will pop into your head while you’re surfing or just when you least expect it. That won’t happen if you’re just grinding it out on tour.
Poole: Somehow, I think as well, you have to be inspired. If you can’t lift your eyelids, it’s hard to be inspired.
Peters: You need space for those ideas to pop through. We don’t necessarily like writing by committing.
Last question. You guys obviously did Pacha Ibiza for however long. Are there other dream venues that you haven’t played yet? Festivals? You guys just did a two hour live set at Ultra, pretty solid.
Peters: I think Ultra is always, this is our fourth or fifth one and then we’ve done a bunch around the world. It’s great to see the same faces, the same people running the place. It’s become, in some ways, a little group of friends that see each other all the time where you get to work together. As far as wishlists, definitely Lollapalooza, Coachella would be nice as far as American festivals go. Maybe thinking about TomorrowWorld. Burning Man? Hey, we’ll play anywhere. Just book us!